101 Seminars

What is History 101?

The History 101 seminar is designed to guide you through the capstone experience of your undergraduate education as a history major: the researching and writing of your senior thesis. Successful completion of this challenging but rewarding endeavor requires you to do the work of a historian. Ultimately, this translates to producing a piece of scholarship—in this case, a 25-30 page final paper—in which you articulate and defend a historical interpretation/argument rooted in extensive primary source research, informed by thorough secondary source reading.


Fall 2019 Registration

If you would like to take History 101 this fall, please fill out this online form by Wednesday, July 10th: 101 Seminar Preferences Form.
PLEASE NOTE: Make sure you're logged into your Berkeley.edu account to access this form.

Please indicate your top two choices, and include a short explanation of why your top choice makes the most sense to you. If you have a serious scheduling issue, please mention it. We really want to be certain that every 101 student is in the best possible section. If you miss the deadline, please email Leah when you realize you have missed it. You will still have a spot in a 101, just possibly not your first choice.

We will send you the course number you need in order to add your section via Cal Central soon after the July 10th deadline. You will be able to add the class as soon as your appointment for Phase II comes around.


Fall 2019 Seminars

Here are the instructors, schedules, and descriptions. Please note the special requirements for the Writers' Group.

History 101.001 9-11 M/W, Joseph Kellner
European History
Any topics in European history are welcome, including Russia and the Soviet Union. We will meet several times at the beginning of the semester to discuss possible topics, bibliographies, and research strategies, and then again at the end to discuss paper drafts. The rest of the time I will be meeting with students individually. Students are strongly encouraged to contact the professor before the semester begins to discuss potential research questions and primary source bases.

History 101.002 2-4 M/W, Waldo Martin
US History
This seminar will guide students through the process of completing a senior thesis in a topic in US History. Our focus will be the research and writing process, ranging from the feasibility of research topics, historiography, methodology, and analysis. Students should contact the professor in advance of the seminar to discuss possible topics and, if possible, research questions.

History 101.003 T/Th 10-12, Brooks Jessup
The Writers' Group
Seniors with well-conceived thesis projects that do not fit within the rubrics of other 101 seminars are welcome. Together, they will observe a common schedule in developing, drafting, and critiquing material. The statement should include: 
1. A 250 word description of the proposed thesis topic including a preliminary research question; 2. A preliminary annotated bibliography (with full citations) of suitable primary sources; 3. A short (half page) bibliography of secondary sources; 4. A list of previous coursework in the proposed field of research; 5. The name of a departmental instructor in that field who is willing to help mentor the student by providing bibliographical guidance, occasional consultation, and a critique of the first draft of the thesis. 


Students apply by submitting the online preference form, and must also submit their statements directly to the instructor no later than Friday, August 16th.

Although most applicants will not have had time to develop rigorous statements by the application deadline, they must demonstrate the viability of their projects and their commitment to serious preparation in advance of the course. This section is limited to students whose work clearly falls outside the scope of other 101 sections. If in doubt, please apply. 


Preparation Guidelines

  1. Identify/describe a topic you would like to investigate for your 101 (thesis). Your topic should be narrowly focused, something that you can examine thoroughly, rather than superficially. As a general rule, it is always better to cast your research net deep instead of wide, to cover less in order to uncover more. Your initial topic description should be informed by a preliminary investigation into both primary and secondary sources (see #3 and #4 below) in order to demonstrate how they address and inform the topic you've chosen. This will help establish your topic's feasibility and viability for your thesis. In other words for #1 to mean anything, you'll need to be sure to do #3 and #4.

  2. Spell out a question (or two or three) about your chosen topic that you would like to answer in your your thesis. Your question(s) must be evaluative, i.e., of the "how" / "why" variety, and not normative, i.e., of the "should" or "ought" variety. Evaluative questions require you to take and defend a position, to advance a thesis claim (i.e., interpretation / argument), in response to them.

  3. Conduct the research necessary to (a) identify a primary source base or primary source bases and then (b) begin conducting preliminary research into those primary sources. Ultimately, your final paper will depend on having a rich array of primary sources available to address the research question(s) you pose (#2) for your topic (#1). Many good research questions simply cannot be answered because they lack primary sources. Consequently, it's essential that you choose a research topic and question(s) that has a wealth of available and accessible primary sources. Ultimately, the strength of your thesis will be a function of the persuasiveness/forcefulness of the thesis claim you advance in your final 101 in light of the narrowly-focused thoroughness of the predominantly primary evidence you marshal to support your thesis claim.

  4. Familiarize yourself with some of the historiography (secondary) sources about your chosen topic, including the interpretations they advance and primary sources they employ.